Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 9, Class 3

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 9, Class 3


This is the cleaving of spirit to Spirit—the ultimate attachment and union that result from love….

וְזוֹ הִיא “אִתְדַּבְּקוּת דְּרוּחָא בְּרוּחָא” בְּתַכְלִית הַדְּבֵיקוּת וְהַיִּחוּד, כְּשֶׁהִיא מֵחֲמַת אַהֲבָה וְכוּ’.

Ultimate union with G‑d through Torah study is attained only when it is the result of love. Thus, while it is true that when one studies the Torah simply out of one’s acceptance of the Yoke of Heaven he also achieves a measure of the cleaving of spirit to Spirit, this cannot compare to the degree of attachment that is attained when the same study is motivated by a love of G‑d. Hence, since teshuvah ilaah is a manifestation of the soul’s ultimate attachment with G‑d, it follows that “teshuvah ilaah means engaging in the study of the Torah in awe and love of the Holy One, blessed be He,” as the Zohar teaches.

Since the violation of the covenant through wasteful emission,

וּלְפִי שֶׁפְּגַם הַבְּרִית בְּהוֹצָאַת זֶרַע לְבַטָּלָה,

to say nothing of incestuous relations, or other unions prohibited by the Torah or the Sages

וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר בַּעֲרָיוֹת, אוֹ שְׁאָר אִיסּוּרֵי בִּיאָה דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא אוֹ דְרַבָּנָן

(12for “the words i.e., the prohibitions of the Sages are more grave [than even the words i.e., the prohibitions of the Torah]”13),

(כִּי חֲמוּרִים דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים וְכוּ’)

causes a blemish in the mind,

פּוֹגֵם בַּמּוֹחַ,

therefore, his rectification is secured by engaging in the study of the Torah, which derives from Wisdom.

לָכֵן תִּיקּוּנוֹ הוּא דְּיִתְעַסֵּק בְּאוֹרַיְיתָא, דְּמֵחָכְמָה נָפְקָא.

This explains why it was stated in ch. 4 that only teshuvah ilaah—“engaging in the study of the Torah in awe and love of the Holy One, blessed be He”—is effective in remedying this sin.

We therefore find in Tanna Dvei Eliyahu: “A man commits a sin and is liable to death before the Almighty (for the abovementioned sin carries with it the punishment of death by Divine agency); what shall he do and live?

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּתָנָא דְבֵי אֵלִיָּהוּ: “אָדָם עָבַר עֲבֵירָה וְנִתְחַיֵּיב מִיתָה לַמָּקוֹם, מַה יַּעֲשֶׂה וְיִחְיֶה?

If he was accustomed to studying one page [of the Written Law], let him study two; if he was accustomed to studying one chapter [of the Oral Law], let him study two chapters….”14

אִם הָיָה רָגִיל לִקְרוֹת דַּף אֶחָד – יִקְרָא ב’ דַּפִּים, לִשְׁנוֹת פֶּרֶק אֶחָד – יִשְׁנֶה ב’ פְּרָקִים וְכוּ’”.

Why is a sin punishable by death by Divine agency, including the sin of wasteful emission, rectifiable by an increase in Torah study?

This resembles a rope that is severed and then reknotted:

וְהַיְינוּ, כִּמְשַׁל חֶבֶל הַנִּפְסָק וְחוֹזֵר וְקוֹשְׁרוֹ,

the site of the knot is twofold and fourfold thicker than the rest of the rope.

שֶׁבִּמְקוֹם הַקֶּשֶׁר הוּא כָּפוּל וּמְכוּפָּל,

So it is with the “rope of [G‑d’s] heritage,” with the soul’s bond with its Source.

וְכָכָה הוּא בְּ”חֶבֶל נַחֲלָתוֹ” וְכוּ’.

If this relationship was severed by sin, then repentance must reknot the cord doubly and fourfold. And this is accomplished through the study of the Torah.

Thus, Scripture states, “Through kindness and truth is sin forgiven…,”15

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: “בְּחֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת יְכוּפַּר עָוֹן וְגוֹ’”,

and “there is no truth but Torah….”16

“וְאֵין אֱמֶת אֶלָּא תּוֹרָה וְכוּ’”,

Thus, it is through the study of the Torah that sin is forgiven.

Similarly, on the statement in Scripture that “the sin of the House of Eli will not be atoned by sacrifices and offerings,”17 the Talmud comments: “By sacrifices and offerings will the sin of the House of Eli not be atoned, but it will be atoned through the study of the Torah and through good deeds,”

וַ”עֲוֹן בֵּית עֵלִי בְּזֶבַח וּמִנְחָה הוּא דְאֵינוֹ מִתְכַּפֵּר – אֲבָל מִתְכַּפֵּר בְּתוֹרָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים”,

as explained at the end of the first chapter18 of [Tractate] Rosh Hashanah.

כִּדְאִיתָא בְּסוֹף פֶּרֶק קַמָּא דְרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה:






1. Deuteronomy 22:6.

2. Ibid. 30:20.

3. Note by the Rebbe: “There are many differences between the way in which the ‘cleaving of spirit to Spirit’ is explained here and earlier on, in ch. 49 [of Part I].”

4. Song of Songs 1:2.

5. Deuteronomy 6:5.

6. Jerusalem Talmud, Peah 1:1, et al.

7. Zohar I, 85a.

8. Shabbat 138b.

9. Isaiah 51:16.

10. Ibid. 59:12.

11. Exodus 20:11.

12. Parentheses are in the original text.

13. Cf. Sanhedrin 88b.

14. Cf. Vayikra Rabbah, beg. of ch. 25.

15. Proverbs 16:6.

16. Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 3:8. Cf. Berachot 5b.

17.Samuel 3:14.

18. In his glosses on the Tanya, the Rebbe notes that the Alter Rebbe’s reference to “the end of the first chapter” is somewhat problematic, for this statement appears four pages before the end of that chapter, on 18a.

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